Get Volunteers to Help Educate Science Teachers
The Back Page article in the August-September APS News
talks about the need for colleges to foster people that are interested in going into teaching. Good. That is a piece of the solution, and of course there are lots of pieces.
Many years ago I taught high school physics myself in NY state. Why did I leave high school science and physics teaching? One of the problems is that I had nothing in common with the other teachers. Aside from physics, I wanted to be able to talk to my work mates about where I could buy brakes for my car or why it is difficult to fly an airplane using solar cells. The majority of high school teachers were more interested in their social life.
Next difficulty was the administration. All but one of my physics students passed the NY state regents exam. Administrators were very happy about that, but reminded me that I needed to take the required education courses to continue teaching. Sorry, I was not interested in learning that I had to place all the window shades at the same level.
The scarcity of good physics teachers in high school is a big problem, I agree. There was a time, about 20 years ago, when APS had a program to help educate K-12 teachers of science in Montgomery County, MD. The NSF funding ended, the APS leader went away, and all of the scientist volunteers were left cold. We were willing to go on helping Montgomery County teachers but as far as I knew, the program fell apart. I am willing to volunteer again and try to help educate the local teachers, even way down to the K level. I suspect that many of the other scientists in the area would also. I would rather work with the physics teachers but I know there is value working with all levels. Any chance APS can organize helping local public schools?
Victor J. Sank
Ed. Note: The Back Page in this issue of
APS News describes a program in Santa Fe, NM that is similar to what the writer is advocating.